The Christian is called to follow the example set by the Lord Jesus Christ and expose all the works of (Satan) 'the evil one' (1 John 3:8), and the occultic realm, by the standard of God's inspired Word. In doing this, we aim it is our desire to give a balanced picture of the situation and to avoid sensationalism.Avoiding Extremes
Sites such as 'Tolerance' challenge us to inform people of the possible results of occult involvement and to clear up possible misconceptions caused by their claims. It is clear that the occult contains a large spectrum of practices which often seem harmless - but they can be a doorway leading to more serious involvement. Not everyone will go further with their dabbling, but some clearly do. It is the Christian view that Satan is far more intelligent than us and has an agenda which centres on harming God's creation. Sites like 'Tolerance' are happy to give credence to the occultists beliefs in supernatural powers, but refuse to accept our interpretation of the nature of the power involved and clearly prove to be anti-Christian in their attitude to Christianity and thus fail to live up to their very name!
If we are not to be tricked by Satan we need to know his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). Satan is smart enough to hand out trinkets to gain a foothold in the life of individual's and there may come a point when God will no longer protect us because we are steeped in rebellion. Obviously the wise thing in life is to avoid practices that harm us, but Christian know that human beings are ignorant creatures who think they are smarter than they really are - while occultists tend to believe they are in control of the powers that control them! We are stupid enough over chemical abuse, often moving from the drug abuse of cigarettes or marijuana to more powerful drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Supernatural abuse can also escalate in the same way, from ouija board and horoscopes to ceremonies directed towards an unknown god who is really the 'god of this world' (2 Corinthians 4:4; cf.1 John 5:19) - Satan! He is very difficult to escape from without God's help. There are many thousands of testimonies (from those who were once involved in the occult) to the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ and He alone has the power to free the captive. Although occult practices appear to give power to individuals at first, there is always a price to pay in some form of bondage. If you are caught in the occult a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can set you totally free from occultic bondage.
Our main goal is to inform the Christian about the nature of his real enemy and the Satanic devices used in spiritual warfare. If Satan cannot stop us being saved, he will seek to contain us, often by fear, and we do need to be aware of his guile so that we can understand how others are drawn into deception. Satan is described in the Bible as a deceiver, a liar, a tempter and a devourer for good reason.
A Word of Warning
C. S. Lewis wrote: 'There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a 'magician' with the same delight' (C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, New York: MacMillan Co., 1961, preface).
Lewis was not a theologian and Christians should be wary of his often faulty views of doctrine. This quote merely highlights the need for the Christian to strike a balance so that the extremes that groups like 'Tolerance' complain about are avoided. We have already shown how 'Tolerance' cannot avoid being unbalanced itself, but this is a pitfall that we all need to avoid, neither seeing the devil in everything nor completely denying his influence and workings. There are also phenomena that some feel to be occultic but which can be better explained either by 'sleight-of-hand magic' and associated deception, statistical probability, or psychological factors.
The Supernatural Does Exist
It is not our desire to stimulate curiosity in the realm of the occult to the point that it becomes an obsession. Seeing that mankind has a certain fascination about evil, it would be wise to take the advice of the Apostle Paul: 'I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil' (Romans 16:19). Dabbling with the occult can lead to serious repercussions, both psychologically and spiritually. We need to be aware of the workings of the satanic realm but not to the point of unhealthy fascination, obsession or involvement.
We live in a day when people are looking for answers to life's basic questions: 'What is the purpose of life?'; 'Is there life after death?'; 'Is there evidence for the existence of a supernatural God?'
In other sections we give reasons why we believe that God exists and has revealed Himself to mankind through both the Bible and the Person of Jesus Christ. He has provided irrefutable evidence in support of the fact that He not only exists but that He is sovereign over history.
The Bible makes it clear that there is a supernatural warfare going on: 'For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places' (Ephesians 6:12, NASB).
This ongoing spiritual battle is between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. One purpose of Jesus Christ's coming to earth was given to us by the Apostle John:
'The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil' (1 John 3:8).
Although the Scriptures make it clear that the supernatural is real and that spiritual warfare is going on, there are those like 'Tolerance' who would like to demythologize the accounts of the devil, demons and demon possession. Such people usually contend that the supernatural references in the Scriptures are from a pre-scientific, superstitious world view (hence the 'Tolerance' view on psychiatrists, whose views are culled from the work of anti-Christian occultists, such as Jung and Freud - read their works for proof!). The supernatural is plainly spoken of in the Scriptures and the New Testament speaks clearly of demonic powers handled by Jesus, widely considered, even among non-Christians, to have been the greatest man who ever lived. Again and again Jesus casts out demons, even engaging in dialogues with them (cf. the Gadarene demoniac incident, Luke 8); and his followers cast out demons in His name (Acts 19, etc.). Jesus' public ministry commenced after He was 'driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil' (Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 4).
Central to the entire New Testament teaching concerning the end of the world is Christ's return 'with all His mighty angels,' God's triumph over the evil powers, and the casting of Satan into the lake of fire forever (Matthew 25; Mark 13; 2 Thessalonians 1; Revelation 19, 20).
People who try and mentally delete such material from their minds quickly run into problems. To attempt to re-interpret the demonic in the New Testament as symbolic (of evil, psychosis, disease, etc.) is to leave yourself open to critics who would like to regard Jesus as symbolic (of the good, of mental and physical health, etc.)! In the narrative of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness a dialogue takes place between Jesus and the devil and both surely had comparable reality or unreality! The Christadelphian cult suffers from this problem in their doctrine since they regard references to 'satan' as representing 'the personification of sin of the flesh' - so in their case the sinless Jesus (Hebrews 4:15) - who therefore clearly had no sin in His flesh - had an imaginary conversation with His own sin?! This emphasises the craziness of attempting to demythologize or 're-interpret' the supernatural and satanic in the New Testament, for they are integrally bound up with the reality of Jesus and His entire message. The world of the occult is real, and God's all-powerful Spirit is just as real!
The Greek word found in the four Gospels is daimonizomai, which literally means 'demonisation', (signifying to be possessed of a demon, or to act under the control of a demon) describing the way we are affected by demonic or satanic forces. Satan, although a supernatural being, cannot be everywhere (omnipresent) - this is a power only possessed by God. That is why he has such a well-run demonic army (Ephesians 6:12) who are involved in deception everywhere and the reason why occultic powers can appear to have foreknowledge and occasionally prophetic accuracy. In addition, in order for any of these beings to affect us inwardly they need a doorway through which to enter. Satan was looking for such a doorway when he was allowed to tempt Jesus (Luke 4:1-13) on every level - body, soul and spirit - but no doorway was found and he had to leave and wait for another opportunity to destroy the gospel plan of redemption.Can a Christian be possessed?
There is a difference between oppression and possession - and simply losing our tempers in an angry rage. We may all lose control from time to time, sometimes severely, but this does not mean we have a 'spirit of rage' and many of the ignorant Christians spoken of by 'Tolerance' attempt 'deliverance' ministry when more reliance on the self-control the Holy Spirit gives them is what is needed - a mature understanding of being 'crucified with Christ' (Galatians 2:20; 5:24).
Luke 4:39-41 also shows us that not every sickness is a demonic problem. Although demons were coming out of many people it was not all who were made sick by demon possession and some were cured of their illnesses. Some of the groups and individuals examined by 'Tolerance' have fallen into the trap of believing that everything is demonic while ignoring the reality of the world and flesh. Each case must be taken on its own merit.
The answer actually depends on what the enquirer means by 'possessed'. There is a big difference between 'possession' and 'oppression', although essentially the same Greek word is used in every Scriptural text. Some say the answer must be 'Yes' because of the number of 'possessed' people detailed in the Bible. But we must also take into account the Scriptural examples (quoted by people like New Zealand 'exorcist' Bill Subritsky) who were 'demonised' but were not 'born again Christians.' A Christian is 'filled' by the Holy Spirit, at least in measure, and cannot be totally 'possessed' if they living a 'crucified life in Christ' (ibid.) However if the question is, can a Christian be 'afflicted' (or 'oppressed') by a demon then the answer is clearly 'Yes'. If we open up a doorway through involvement with the occult, deliverance may be needed and, if a Christian becomes seriously involved with the occult, it is possible for them to be 'demonised.' But such a doorway can be closed for forgiveness is available because the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary paid the price for your freedom - the 'blood of Jesus' (Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 10:19; 13:12, 20; 1 Peter 1:2; 1John 1:7; Revelation 1:5) sets the believer 'free from the Law of sin and death' (Romans 8:2). The apostle Peter allowed Satan to impose his will on him and he received Jesus' rebuke (Matthew 16:23), and he denied the Lord at the crucifixion (ibid.), but he was never 'possessed' and, after the resurrection, Jesus totally restored him on the seashore (John 21:15-19). The classic Old Testament example of a 'demonized believer' is king Saul, who was the anointed king of Israel (1 Samuel 9:16; 15:17), had the spirit of God to the point that he was measured 'among the prophets' (1 Samuel 10:10-12; 19:24 ), became back-slidden by disobedience (1 Samuel 13 & 15) and rebellion to the point that he sought to kill his successor, David (who was chosen by God - 2 Samuel 5:3), and Saul subsequently became afflicted/oppressed by an evil spirit sent by God (1 Samuel 6:14)! This is the example of the kind of disobedience which can lead to a Christian being 'oppressed', but not possessed, by demons (evil spirits).Occultic Deception
What Kind of People Get Involved in the Occult?
The doorways into the occult are various and not all will lead to permanent demonisation. Always there is the potential to be seriously affected by Satan's lies and bondage. Just as the Holy Spirit can do great things in peoples lives, releasing them from bondage, bringing healing, etc., there are evil spirits who want to do just the opposite in lives. The difference is that God is eternal and unlimited whereas Satan has limits and is not eternal. Satan was the highest created being but fell from heaven after attempting a coup to raise himself to the level of the Most High (Isaiah 14:14). He is however greater than man by himself because he is a heavenly creation. Therefore, if we do not have the protection of the Lord Jesus, and live under that banner of holiness, Satan can affect us in supernatural ways. Although we recognise the reality of the supernatural, we must be careful not to place all unexplained phenomena into the supernatural category. There is much that goes on under the guise of the supernatural that is nothing but deception. This pseudo-occult phenomenon has fooled many people into believing in its legitimacy.
What is the difference between occultic and pseudo-occultic phenomena? Occult phenomena are relate to supernatural agencies, their effects, and knowledge of them. An example which many people consider a manifestation of occultic powers is demon possession. While the manifestation is visible, the force behind it is not. We can see the effects of a possession, but we cannot see the demon perpetrating the manifestation. Pseudo-occult phenomena are events which appear to be caused by secretive, supernatural powers and yet are brought about by physical or psychological means. There is great danger in treating the occult and pseudo-occult on equal ground.
Misconceptions about the supernatural are legion, and it makes no difference whether or not we profess religious beliefs. Neither is our level of mental competence or educational background a factor. In order for anyone to make qualified decisions as to the validity of the supernatural it is helpful to know something of the art of deception. Needless to say, caution must be exercised before assuming some unexplained phenomenon is demonic. Non-orthodox Christian writers draw incorrect conclusions from some phenomena and, instead of categorising it as deception, attribute non-demonic phenomena to the occult leading groups such as 'Tolerance' to false conclusions about Christian belief.
Which practices are Occultic?
It is important to remember that when we refer to the 'occult,' we do not mean one homogenous organization or religion. The 'occult' refers to a collection of practices and beliefs generally associated with occultic phenomena. An individual could be in the 'occult' whether involved in a particular occultic group or just involved with occultic practices and/or beliefs.
Certainly we must not blame everything on Satan, but he has considerable power over the non-Christians life. We should never be surprised at the foothold he has on people's lives. We should also understand that not everyone who is involved in these things or who admits to being a 'witch', is necessarily an evil and nasty person. Some of them have unwittingly stumbled into these practices, or maybe have learnt them through their family, and therefore look upon them as natural. Others may have entered the practices at a vulnerable time in their lives, when they were searching for meaning, and still others may have been 'spiritually' affected from the past. Christians are called upon to witness to the Lord Jesus Christ (the Word of God - John 1:1) whenever the opportunity is given (1 Peter 3:15-18) for occultists such as Simon Magus were given the opportunity to believe and be saved (Acts 8:9-24), but he chose to return to his old occultic ways (The Epistle of Ignatius; Irenaeus against Heresies,Chapter 23: Doctrines and practices of Simon Magus and Menander; chapter 27: Doctrines of Cerdo and Marcion). It is necessary to deal with any type of evil spirit influencing our life prior to accepting Christ, and these problems are usually dealt with at the time of confessing all past sin and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of your life - it really is that easy for most people!
It is wrong to classify occultists as either sick or on the fringe of society, for practitioners come from all walks of life and you will find many responsible professional people practicing the occult. But even the most respectable people sometimes have a dark side to their character (this is true of some people purporting to be Christians too, as other Sections of this site reveal) and this following true account emphasises the nature that some people hide behind:
Christians who ran a 'bed and breakfast' business from their delightful home on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in Wales were restricted by the Tourist Board regulations from overtly advertising their faith and were only allowed to play Christian music (without lyrics) in the background, while guests were staying. Sometimes they had the opportunity to converse about their beliefs. While entertaining an outwardly delightful family in their home they had occasion to ask them 'if they were religious.' 'Oh yes - we're religious' they replied, smiling, but the conversation didn't go any further. As the family were leaving on their last morning with the Christian couple they casually mentioned that 'their son had suffered a nose bleed in the bedroom and there was a little bit of a mess to clear up.' After waving their guests goodbye the Christian couple went to prepare the bedroom for the next guests. A shocking scene greeted them when they opened the bedroom door - blood had been shed just as they were told. But the blood had not been spilled accidentally, for all around the room were pentagrams and vile Satanic anti-Christian messages in blood! The senior male family member had claimed to be a practising osteopath from Kent. This may have been true but, again, we would simply state that outward appearances really mean nothing. Perverts and idolaters who hide themselves in any Christian denomination are capable of abusing people and insulting God as, for instance, those who continue to practice Freemasonry (occultic and anti-Christ in nature) while claiming to be Christians are doing to this day. The pathetic and ineffective hierarchy of many Christian groups should be ashamed of their inability to act Biblically, and we have exposed such practices in Christian circles in many other articles on this site and in newsletters.
W. Elwyn Davies lists three characteristics which may be true of occult practitioners:
1. Many are escapists. It has become a cliche to say, 'Satan (or the demons) made me do it.' The world of the occult becomes attractive to people who find it difficult to face up to their moral responsibilities. Many dabble with 'other powers,' and are drawn into involvement. They often claim that they have tried 'other remedies' in vain, and the alternative empowerment through the occult allures them.
2. Many more are superstitious. Going beyond the bounds of revelation and common sense, they profess to see demonic activity in many areas: Sickness, depression, anger, any unusual or unexplained behaviour. While such may be evidence of demonic action, it should by no means be an automatic assumption. Where natural causes offer a reasonable explanation it is wise to accept them as the origin of the problem. People who jump to the conclusion that demonic influences are responsible for a wide variety of phenomena invariably become obsessed with the thought of demons-at-work, and suffer many of the disabilities commonly found in victims of demonization.
3. All are victims. I use the word advisedly. There is no point in being judgmental toward these people, even though as Christians we oppose and condemn all occult practices. From a biblical perspective there is no room for negotiation or compromise here. God judges and condemns all traffic with demons, and we can do no less. In the sight of God they are guilty of transgressing His law. Each one is a victim, too, the victim of powers immeasurably more powerful and knowing than he. What kind of person is he?
(1) The curious, who experiments and plays with demonic forces, only to find eventually that they are playing with him.
(2) The conformist, who looks around at this peer group and says, 'Everyone does it,' and decides to be another who 'does it.'
(3) The dissatisfied, whose religious experience has left him unfulfilled and sceptical.
(4) The sad, whose bereavement inclines him toward anything that offers knowledge of the dead.
(5) The rebellious, who recoils from the status quo in the church and in society, and seeks a viable alternative elsewhere.
(6) The psychically inclined, who wants to develop suspected latent powers.
(7) The offspring of practising occultists, who are conditioned from childhood.
(8) The credulous, and every generation seems to produce its quota of them!
(W. Elwyn Davies, in Principalities and Powers, edited by John Warwick Montgomery, Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, 1976, pp. 303, 304).
Listed below are some of the most common doorways, but the list is endless and we give some examples from the files of the late Dr Kurt Koch*, a Christian who had unparalleled experience of the occult and related deceptions:
Horoscopes: Not everyone involved in horoscopy will have a 'gift' and it is possible that some people are fakes. There is a clear illustration of this in Jeremiah 14:14 and Ezekiel 13:2-6 where there were two types, those who had a spirit of divination and those who worked out of their own minds. But even if we take notice of a prediction from the 'mind' we are allowing outside forces of superstition to bind our lives and even this can be a doorway for Satan.
Levitation: 'The witches of olden times, too, were popularly supposed to make use of some occult mode of locomotion in their nocturnal travels…… As a spiritualistic phenomenon levitation of the human body became known at an early stage of the movement, being recorded in connection with the medium Gordon so early as 1851. But the most important of levitated mediums was D.D. Horne' (The Encyclopaedia of the Occult, ca.1900; 1994 edition, by Lewis Spence, p.250.)
Pendulum divination: Divination is: 'The method of obtaining knowledge of the unknown or the future by means of omens…… The derivation of the word supposes a direct message from the gods to the diviner…… The methods of divination are many and various, and strangely enough in their variety are confined to no one corner of the globe'. - (ibid. Spence, pp.125/126).
Dowsing rod: Many would feel that this is a harmless activity and that the power to move the rod to find water, minerals etc., in the ground is latent within man. The history of the subject would not give one that confidence. This ancient divining rod was a form of rhabdomancy or divination by means of little pieces of stick. 'In Germany it was known as the 'wishing-rod' and was used just as fortune tellers use cards, coffee or tea-grounds at the present day…… As to a theory for these movements…… A modern scientist gives his opinion that very possibly it is due to a faculty in the 'dowser' akin to that possessed by a medium: 'some transcendental perceptive power unconsciously possessed by certain persons, a faculty analogous to what is called clairvoyance.' (Ibid. Spence, p.128).
Dr Koch has a myriad of information on rod and pendulum occultists:
The material I have collected about the rod and the pendulum over the last forty-five years is so extensive that I could write a large volume of sensational stories involving them. Here I can only outline some of the problems.
1. The instrument used
Diviners normally use a forked willow twig, although some use a rod of fishbone or one of steel. There are some diviners who use no instrument at all, but simply spread out their fingers to detect the earth rays. Others use a pendulum, that is, a metal weight attached to a thread. Since the rod and pendulum belong to the same sphere of operations, the societies of water diviners and pendulum users have been amalgamated to form the Society of Radiaesthesia. Years ago I met the president of this society. He comes from Hamburg and works not only with rod and pendulum, but also approves of and does magic charming. He told me this, when we met at a conference.
2. The confusion of spirits
Even believing Christians are divided on the question of what they should think of rod and pendulum. I have met doctors, pastors, missionaries, and even evangelists who use the rod or pendulum and believe they have received this gift from God. Satan's cunning is very evident here, when even believing Christians are deceived by him. I will give an example.
Ex 185 While I was taking part in an evangelistic campaign in France, the local pastor asked me to talk on the subject of rod and pendulum. Many of his church members practiced these occult area arts. After my address, one of the pastors who had been listening asked if he might speak. I first asked the local pastor if he would agree to this; for I have often found that, those who practice the occult will come up on to the platform and say exactly the opposite to what I have been saying. "You must let him speak," whispered the pastor to me. "He is our dean; he is over me." The dean turned to the congregation and said: "You all know me. I have to confess that for twenty-five years I have used the pendulum to find out hidden things. Whenever I had questions I could not answer, I consulted the pendulum. I have used it to serve my church. Now I have come to see that the use of the pendulum is not a gift of God but is a gift from below. I must repent of it, and I ask you all to forgive me."
This example shows that a minister who was regarded in the whole surrounding area as a believer, in fact, practiced magic for twenty-five years, and so brought occult influence upon his church. He experienced more serious consequences in his own life, which I will not detail here.